Smoke-free policies and the social acceptability of smoking in Uruguay and Mexico: Findings from the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project


Introduction: Little research has been conducted to determine the psychosocial and behavioral impacts of smoke-free policies in middle-income countries.

Methods: Cross-sectional data were analyzed from the 2006 waves of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation. Survey comparing adult smokers in Mexico (n = 1,080), where smoke-free legislation at that time was weak, and Uruguay (n = 1,002), where comprehensive smoke-free legislation was implemented. Analyses aimed to determine whether exposure to smoke-free policies and perceived antismoking social norms were associated with smokers' receiving cues about the bothersome nature of secondhand smoke (SHS), with smokers' reactance against such cues, and with smokers' level of support for smoke-free policies in different venues.

Results: In bivariate analyses, Uruguayan smokers were more likely than Mexican smokers to experience verbal anti-SHS cues, lower reactance against anti-SHS cues, stronger antismoking societal norms, and stronger support for 100% smoke-free policies in enclosed workplaces, restaurants, and bars. In multivariate models for both countries, the strength of voluntary smoke-free policies at home was independently associated with support for smoke-free policies across all venues queried, except for in bars among Uruguayans. Perceived strength of familial antismoking norms was consistently associated with all indicators of the social acceptability of smoking in Uruguay but only with the frequency of receiving anti-SHS verbal cues in Mexico.

Discussion: These results are generally consistent with previous research indicating that comprehensive smoke-free policies are likely to increase the social unacceptability of smoking and that resistance against such policies is likely to diminish once such policies are in place.